First Infant Dies From Marburg Outbreak, Virus Related to Ebola

The most recent outbreak of the Marburg virus, a disease similar in nature to Ebola, has claimed its first infant victim, according to a new report.

The West African nation of Ghana is currently in the midst of an outbreak of the Marburg virus. The disease was first identified in early July in two deceased men, ages 26 and 51, and it was later recognized as an outbreak by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is the first time in the disease's history that it has had such an outbreak in Ghana.

An additional fatality was later confirmed in late July, with a fourth being reported on Thursday by the Ghana Health Service. The fourth victim was a 14-month-old boy, making it the first infant death caused by this latest Marburg outbreak. The health service explained that the infant was, in fact, the son of the 26-year-old man who was one of the outbreak's first victims.

The mother of the child, and partner of the deceased man, was also reported to be battling the Marburg virus on Thursday. However, the report assured that she was "alive and well" and being kept in a "government designated isolation center" under strict infection protocols.

ghana marburg virus infant death
The first case of an infant death has been reported amid the 2022 outbreak of the Marburg virus in Ghana. Here, a representational image of a health worker in Ghana. Nipah Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

The virus was first documented in West Germany in 1967 and named for one of the towns where it was detected, Marburg. While not explicitly related, the Marburg virus has been noted for the similarity of its symptoms to the much more infamous Ebola virus. These symptoms include fever, muscle pains, diarrhea and vomiting. In extreme cases, the Marburg virus can lead to death via blood loss and multiple organ dysfunction. The virus is known to have a mortality rate of 24-88 percent.

Marburg virus has had outbreaks in several African nations over the decades, including South Africa, the Congo, Kenya, and Angola, with the latter outbreak being the deadliest in history with nearly 230 recorded deaths. The virus has had five outbreaks in Uganda between 2007 and 2017, with the most recent one, prior to Ghana, being reported in Guinea last year.

The mother and child recently reported on by the Ghana Health Service were among 118 contact trace cases carried out based on the 26-year-old patient. The other 116 individuals were contacted three weeks after their potential exposure and all were found to be healthy.

"The Service remains committed to protecting the health of Ghana's population and will continue to implement measures to attain and maintain this," the health service's report concluded.

Newsweek reached out to the World Health Organization for comment.